SUKKUR: “You’d better buy a chicken to sacrifice this Eid,” an annoyed cattle herder told a customer, who fired off a series of accusations in return.
This scenario is normal for this time of the year as Eidul Azha approaches and people set out to haggle with cattle herders. This time, though, the customers are angrier than usual.
The cattle owner, who suggested a hen, and his irate customer almost came to blows at the market that has been set up at the old railway godown in Sukkur. However, the people around managed to calm them down.
“They are demanding exorbitant prices this year,” said another customer, Haji Abdul Sattar, talking to The Express Tribune. “You see this goat,” he said pointing towards an average looking animal. “Is it worth Rs25,000?”
For Sattar, and many others, the answer was a resounding no. The cattle market had few customers and it is probably because of the prices. Herders are demanding Rs20,000 to Rs40,000 for a goat, depending on its ‘size, beauty and weight’. Meanwhile, the price range for cows and bulls is Rs35,000 to Rs500,000.
The price should be according to their weight, Sattar recommended. He said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that the cattle herders were charging just rates. “Last year I bought a goat bigger than this one for Rs13,000 and now they are demanding Rs25,000 for this little one,” he fumed.
The herder, Mohammad Khan Brohi, said their prices were justified by the overall rate of inflation. “Just compare last year’s prices of daily use commodities to this year’s prices and you will realise why we are demanding so much,” he said.
Prices of sugar, vegetable ghee and oil, pulses, vegetables, meat, fish, chicken and even fodder have gone up, he said, ticking off the items. “We live in the same society, we too have families to care for!”
Herder Haji Khuda Bux Maitlo from Kandhara told The Express Tribune that he bought goats for Rs15,000 to Rs20,000, so he could not possibly sell them for less. In his opinion, if anybody was to blame it was the government. “We at least deserve a profit of Rs1,000 per animal otherwise coming here and spending so much time is completely useless,” he said.
One of the herders, Shahid Mirani, who had decided to price his goats more reasonably at Rs6,000 to Rs8,000, was looking quite desolate. His goats, albeit somewhat malnourished, were attracting very few customers. “I’m charging reasonable rates but nobody wants to buy,” he exclaimed just before a man came up to him. But this customer wanted to pay even less. He offered Rs8,000 for two goats which stung Mirani too much. He refused to go lower than Rs10,000 and eventually the buyer walked off.
The most expensive cows and bulls at the market belonged to Ghous Bux Lashari, who was demanding Rs150,000 to Rs500,000 for one animal. His tent was surrounded by a crowd, mostly young children who wanted to look at the animals. Lashari said he had come from Saleh Pat. He takes care of animals the entire year. On average, a cow or a bull eats fodder worth Rs200 every day. “How am I supposed to sell them at cheap prices?”
“Eidul Azha comes once in a year but people still try to purchase animals at a low rate,” Lashari said. “They spend hundreds of thousands on their other luxuries but when it comes to spending in the name of Allah, they are reluctant to part with their money!” he accused.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2010.
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